Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works

March 21, 2014

On Friday, April 4, Faulconer Gallery will welcome “Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works,” curated by Patterson Sims, an independent art curator, writer, and consultant based in New York. Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery is the exhibition’s fourth of five college and university stops.

There will be a number of events in conjunction with this exhibition, including gallery talks with Willie Cole on April 4 at 4:15 p.m. and members of Happenstance Theater on Tuesday, April 8, at noon.

The realities of inner-city African-American life and his immediate family have laid the groundwork for the sculptures, paintings, drawings, and prints of Willie Cole. Cole, who grew up in post-industrial Newark, sees himself as an “urban archaeologist.” He draws inspiration from traditional African art to create contemporary works in many media.

Cole transforms mass-produced objects into precious icons or symbolic representations to examine race, history, and belief systems. His artwork has engaged in a continuous conversation with national identity and world culture through shifting themes, from the personal to the universal and his African-American Baptist heritage to international, pan-spiritual perspectives.

Faulconer Gallery will host the following public events during “Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works”:

  • Mondays and Thursdays, March 31 – May 15, 12:15 p.m.: Yoga in the gallery for beginners and experienced practitioners. Co-sponsored by Live Well Grinnell. Mats are provided.
  • Fri., April 4, 4:15 p.m.: Gallery talk with artist Willie Cole. Co-sponsored by the Grinnell College Black Alumni Weekend.
  • Fri., April 4, 5 p.m.: Opening reception. Willie Cole will be present, and light refreshments will be served. Co-sponsored by the Grinnell College Black Alumni Weekend.
  • Tues., April 8, noon: Gallery talk with Happenstance Theater. Performers will discuss how they would engage with an exhibition through theatre, using “Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works”.
  • Sat., April 12, 1:30 p.m.: Community Day. Tour the exhibitions, complete a scavenger hunt, enjoy printmaking, and create sculptures from shoes. All are welcome, and refreshments will be served.
  • Wed., April 16, 7:30 p.m.: Spring harp recital under the direction of Kristin Maahs, applied music associate.
  • Thurs., April 17, 7:30 p.m.: Fresh Flutes concert under the direction of Claudia Anderson, applied music associate.
  • Wed., April 30, 4:15 p.m.: “Sharing Complex Conversations.” Gallery talk with curator Patterson Sims, president of the Board of Independent Curators.

“Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works” is open through June 1. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, and admission is free. The gallery will be closed for Memorial Day.

Faulconer Gallery is located in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts at 1108 Park St. For more information about the exhibitions and related programs, call 641-269-4660 or visit Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or